Family, Friends Mourn Loss of Maine Mother Whose Death Ruled 'Suspicious'

This undated picture made available by Conway, N.H. Police shows 20-year-old Krista Dittmeyer.

This undated picture made available by Conway, N.H. Police shows 20-year-old Krista Dittmeyer.  (AP)

Krista Dittmeyer, the missing 20-year-old single mother whose body was found Wednesday in a New Hampshire pond, was remembered as a young woman whose love for children made her a sought-after baby sitter in the small Maine town where she grew up.

"She absolutely loved children," family friend Sandy Pasquale said in an interview with "Everyone wanted her as a baby sitter."  

Now, friends and family are planning a funeral for Dittmeyer, whose death is being called "suspicious" by authorities.

Dittmeyer, a 2008 graduate of Lake Region High School who grew up in Bridgton, Maine, and lived in Portland, was last seen alive Friday. Authorities launched a search for the woman after her car was found the next day in a Conway, N.H., parking lot with its engine still running and her baby daughter inside.

Prosecutors from the New Hampshire attorney general's office announced Wednesday that divers pulled Dittmeyer's body from Duck Pond, about a quarter-mile from where her black Nissan Sentra was found idling in the parking lot of Cranmore Mountain ski area. 

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young called the woman's death "suspicious" on Thursday and said prosecutors are waiting for autopsy results from the medical examiner in Concord. 

The grim announcement stunned family and friends in Bridgton who say they remember Dittmeyer as a "lovable girl" who "always stood on her own two feet." 

Pasquale said she last saw Dittmeyer four months ago when she stopped into the Morning Glory restaurant in Bridgton where the young woman worked as a waitress.  

"She worked to support herself as long as I can remember," said Pasquale, whose daughter grew up with Dittmeyer. "She was a beautiful young girl ... the apple of my eye."

Dittmeyer had been living with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Kyle Acker, when he was arrested on drug charges last June, the Portland Press Herald reports.

Police had reportedly received a tip from neighbors, saying several people were seen coming and going from the apartment, and that is was believed Acker may be selling drugs.

When officers found cocaine, marijuana and a 9-mm handgun at the home, Acker allegedly told police he had been selling drugs for six months since being released from jail over nonpayment of child support, according to the newspaper.

Friends interviewed by knew little about Acker, who is currently serving time for the drug conviction in a Maine jail, according to local press accounts.  

"I wouldn't know him if he stood in front of me," said Pasquale. "I don't even know his name."  

Investigators have said they do not believe Dittmeyer left her car willingly. 

The Conway Daily Sun reports that Acker's brother and another man were questioned by police in the woods around Cranmore late Tuesday night. 

Richard Acker, 28, and Corey Poland, 25, of Portland, were reportedly stopped by authorities just before midnight. Poland was arrested on a charge of willful concealment, but Acker was not, according to the newspaper. 

The two men allegedly told a Conway patrolman they knew Dittmeyer and were out searching for her, the newspaper reports. They also allegedly told the officer they found a flip-flop that may belong to her but left it where they found it in the woods. 

Conway Police Lt. Christopher Perley said Tuesday that police had searched two vehicles -- one being Dittmeyer's -- for clues in the case. He would not elaborate on the second vehicle investigated. 

A police source also told that blood was discovered in Dittmeyer's vehicle, but Perley would not confirm the report, saying the Conway Police Department "does not comment on specific pieces of evidence." All inquiries in the investigation are now directed to the attorney general's office.

Perley said police don't know why Dittmeyer drove to Conway, but noted that the young woman had a "number of social contacts" in the area.

Residents in Bridgton, meanwhile, are planning a candlelight gathering Thursday evening at the Stevens Brook Elementary School as a show of support for the family.

Cristina Corbin is a Fox News reporter based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @CristinaCorbin.